The world is constantly thinking about energy--specifically, the consequences of burning fossil fuel on the ecosystem.
Interestingly, most people don't seem to get the consequences of leaders who burn "fossil fuel" in the workplace: people who manage employees using toxic tactics and behaviours.
We're getting clear that the future of our planet depends on our ability to make the shift from fossil to renewable fuel. But the future of your organization may depend on it too.
Fossil fuel in today's workplace
Does this sound familiar?
Perhaps your business culture was first built on renewable fuel. Passion, pride and purpose energized you and everybody around you.
Even if everyone was exhausted after a long day of work, their passion and pride woke them in the morning--powerful jolts of intrinsic motivation that would fuel you and your team through another demanding day!
But as time went on, senior leaders discovered that a small outburst of anger could make employees work faster. Soon, managers were giving themselves permission to burn toxic "fossil fuels" at work like:
- bullying, intimidation and threats;
- positional power and judgment; and
- encouraging unhealthy competition amongst employees.
Eventually, other fossil fuels like control, compulsion, guilt and shame permeated their way into the overall organizational fabric.
Sure, just like crude oil, fossil fuels can create instant results and increase productivity by unfathomed multiples--but only in the short-term.
That's because, when fossil fuels heat up the work environment, even the best of employees can scarcely keep their noses above water. The resulting by-product: a workplace culture full of burnt-out, bitter, disenfranchised employees.
Is your organization burning fossil fuel?
Is your leadership team leaving an oily, corrosive residue throughout the organization?
When fossil fuel permeates, people quickly lose their trust in their leaders.
Here are some other signs to determine if your leaders are burning fossil fuel:
- Too many "yes's" (and not enough intelligent push-back)
- Mounting stress leaves and absenteeism
- Reports of bullying
- Signs of compliance (but not commitment)
- Low response rates on engagement surveys
- People saying "That's not my job"
- Lack of follow-through
- Territorialism/silo mentality
- Team breakdowns
Stop burning these fossil fuels
Using the list below, leaders can see themselves through the eyes of their employees.
Consider one simple step you can take towards making the switch toward burning clean, renewable energy.
Instead of burning the fossil fuel of intimidation, consider burning the renewable fuel of connection.
Likewise, don't burn:
- Shame; instead, burn purpose
- Criticism; instead, burn recognition
- Guilt; instead, burn passion
- Micro-managing; instead, burn autonomy
- Compulsion; instead, burn growth
- Unhealthy competition - instead, burn contribution
Go for the Tesla (clean) leadership approach
If you've ever caught yourself putting diesel in your gas tank and stopped mid-stride, you know it's possible to shift from one fuel to another in the matter of seconds.
Here are just a couple examples your team can make the switch from burning toxic fossil fuel to clean, renewable, energizing fuel:
- If a direct report approaches you with an issue and you catch yourself solving the problem for them (instead of with them), take a couple deep breaths and say, "Tell me what you've thought of so far."
- If employees are shutting down during a team meeting, this could mean they feel overpowered. The moderator can admit, "Sorry guys. I think my need to be right got a little out of control there. I really want to hear what each of you has to say about this."
Imagine it differently
Ultimately, it's renewable energy that sustainably fuels high performance, customer experiences, and the bottom line.
When organizations focus on burning renewable, clean energy--that is, encouraging autonomy, purpose, connection, growth and passion in others--leaders can create an environment where employees are both engaged and energized, and the ecosystem flourishes.